REVIEW – STEADFAST (True North, #2) by Sarina Bowen



She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

*****Mel’s Review*****

4.5 Stars!
(ARC provided by author)


Jude Nickel is a guy from a small town called Colebury, Vermont. He lost everything because of drugs & went to prison after an accident he was involved in took a life. After prison he spent some time in rehab & then worked picking apples at Shipley Farms with a loving family that treated him like one of their own. With no more farm work till the spring, and little money, Jude has no other option but to return home to the town that reminded him of all his mistakes. He moves back in with his dad to his room above the garage & works at his dad’s business, the Nickel Auto Body Shop. He plans to lay low, & stay clean. He’s still in recovery & battles his addiction every day, but he’s fighting with everything in him to shed the person he used to be.


Jude is shocked when he comes face to face with the only person who ever truly loved him, his ex-girlfriend Sophie Haines. He thought she would be out of this small town by now, but Sophie is living at home with her overbearing police chief father & her mother. She has a bad home situation & is working at the hospital while finishing up college. She is stunned when she runs into the boy she hasn’t seen in over three and a half years. The boy who broke her heart & shut her out of his life when he was taken away, but this Jude isn’t a boy anymore. He’s all man. He’s huge and even more beautiful than she remembered. He’s changed so much, but she still holds a torch for the guy who destroyed her family. It should be wrong, but in her heart it wasn’t. Loving Jude was the only thing that always felt right.

-He was beautiful.

-Even a glimpse of him had given me palpitations. As if my subconscious had recognized a piece of my soul before my brain got a chance to speak up.



When Jude begins volunteering at the same local church Sophie helps at, they begin seeing more of each other. They both still feel so much for one another & things soon turn intimate between the former high school loves. Sophie still see’s so much good in Jude & treats him like he matters, but Jude doesn’t feel he deserves her. She won’t give up on him, & eventually seeing himself through Sophie’s eyes, Jude begins to have hope for the future.

-She was the one person in my life who thought I was somebody worth knowing.

This story was another fabulous book in this series. It was about forbidden romance & second chances. I adore Jude & was glad to see him get his happy ending. There are a lot of twists and turns & revelations in this book. I really enjoyed it & can’t wait for Zach’s book!

*****Dee’s Review*****

4 Hopeful Stars****

(ARC kindly provided by Author)
(BR with Mel)

This was a beautiful novel about the healing powers of love and about believing in second chances. The main character Jude is a drug addict trying to re-build his life after a terrible tragedy. The subject matter of this book is very sensitive, one that if not done right can turn a story into something very dark and heavy. I feel like this author did a lot of research about it, and handled it delicately, adding depth and beauty to the story. Very well done!


We met Jude Nickel when he was working at the Shipley’s apple farm in Bittersweet. Having finished his seasonal work there now is time for him to go back home. A place that brings nothing but anxiety to him. Jude has been gone for three years, everything about his hometown is familiar, every corner full of memories that haunt him. Jude’s addiction landed him in jail, and being a felon doesn’t leave him with much choice, than to go back home and work for his dad. Jude’s mission; to stay away from drugs and Sophie.

Jude and Sophie were in love. Their relationship meant everything to both of them, but a terrible tragedy got in the way of their love, and now there is nothing but pain and regret between them. After everything went down Jude was sentenced to jail, and Sophie had to quit on all her dreams to stay home and take care her of her mother. But now that Jude is back in town, it will be a real challenge for her to live her life, knowing that the boy she’s always loved is only a few blocks away.


When Jude and Sophie come face to face, the pain and the love is equally strong. What feeling will they allow to conquer?

Will love be able to heal two broken hearts, and bring them hope for a better future, or is it too late for them?

This was not an easy story to read, Jude’s struggles become your own as you learn about his past, present and future. I loved Jude’s resilience, and I loved how much Sophie believed in him. Steadfast delivers a powerful message about letting go of the guilt and accepting hope for the future. This author takes us on a beautiful journey that will make a lasting impression on our hearts. I’m excited to discover more from this series.



*****Patty’s Review*****

*****FOUR STARS*****
{ARC Generously Provided by Author}

I lived for Wednesdays and Thursdays. Pathetic as that was, a weekly glimpse of Sophie (along with some quality time with the Shipleys) kept me sane.




STEADFAST is the second installment in the True Northseries and I will say that I enjoyed this one a little more than I did BITTERSWEET. It definitely was very slow moving for about the first 25% of the story, which for me is entirely too long but I did end up getting into it once the pace picked up and there were some nail-biting moments to spice things up a bit!! If you haven’t read “BITTERSWEET”, I do believe that you can still read this as a standalone but it does help to get a little of Jude’s background from the first book, and also the Shipley family are major secondary characters in this one as well.

I was having second thoughts about reading this book because I wasn’t a huge fan of the first one and I also do not like anything drug related in my stories. They tend to make the story too depressing for me and that definitely did take place in STEADFAST. Jude is back in his hometown, living above his father’s garage. Everywhere he looks, his past is there to haunt him. The one thing from his past that brings the most pain to him is all linked to his ex-girlfriend, Sophie. She was the only person in his life who truly loved and cared for him, and is now lost to him forever. Or is she?? He was sent to prison for three years for involuntary manslaughter. Jude was reported to have been high and driving his car when it ended up careening off the road and killing his passenger, who happened to be Sophie’s older brother. So now he’s back home, working in his father’s garage. He barely has a relationship with his alcoholic father. There is no one he can call “friend” as everyone he used to know, except for Sophie, were all the people he used to either score drugs from or get high with. He’s being consistently harassed by the local police since he is known as the one who killed the police chief’s son. And to add to all his troubles, he has to fight his drug cravings on a daily basis. I really did love Jude for the determination he had to stay clean.

Jude goes to a drug counseling group session every Wednesday at his local church. He is befriended by the priest and asked if he would volunteer at their soup kitchen. Since Jude doesn’t mind busy work because it keeps his thoughts off of drugs, he agrees to help out. It is there that he comes face to face with his true love, Sophie.

During the three years that they were apart, Sophie never moved on. She had tried to reach out to Jude while he was in prison but he refused to see her and sent back her letters. Sophie was completely crushed and left in the dark. No one would tell her what exactly happened the night of the accident. Her brother’s death wrecked her family. Sophie’s mother became a basket case and relies heavily on her to take care of everything at home. Her father is a royal douchebag who mentally and even sometimes physically abuses poor Sophie.

I really struggled with this book because it was just so very depressing and my heart hurt for both Sophie and Jude. They were only able to have short moments of happiness when they met up at Jude’s garage apartment on Wednesday nights. Thursday night dinner at the Shipley’s was also another highlight for them. I did happen to love the twist at the end and ultimately was happy with how it all ends.

STEADFAST is available now!!
Amazon US →

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